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Can you make the Government’s Budget exciting?

A Nottingham Civic Exchange student placement story

On Wednesday 11 March, Nottingham Civic Exchange brought together students, academics and civic partners to watch the new Chancellor deliver his first budget. This was the third time we have hosted an event to bring people together to engage with one of the set-piece economic events of the year. In these sombre times, we engaged with the topics through budget bingo, a get to know the budget quiz and post-announcement discussion. We had a lively and informative debate with our audience.

This event was made all the more engaging through the support we received from a Politics and International Relations placement student. Becki Robbins asked to work with us having followed our activity online. She was keen to test her theoretical political knowledge and we worked with her to create a placement that had shared benefit for her and Nottingham Civic Exchange. The placement allowed her to undertake research, write copy and to plan and help host an event. As part of her placement, she has produced a reflection of her time with us. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Becki for all her hard work and enthusiasm and to remind students that we are always interested in discussing placement opportunities with you. So over to Becki.

Budget asks from audience

As part of my Working with Politics and International Relations module in second year, I undertook a placement at the Nottingham Civic Exchange. I initially emailed Rich asking whether it would be possible to do work experience with them because of the underlying tones of political economy in their work and research. We discussed me helping to organise and prepare for the Budget event that they hosted on March 11th. The process of identifying what I could do to get relevant experience was collaborative, fitting the tasks around my lectures and seminars.

During this placement I was responsible for creating event invites to attract fellow students, as well as external bodies, to this event as it has important implications for our future. I spent a lot of time researching what the Budget is: the history, its traditions, and the processes that follow its announcements. This was really interesting and a necessary document to have, as it provided the attendees some background information to such an important event in British politics. Throughout the process I had meetings frequently with Rich, checking in on what needed to be done next, reviewing the work I had done, and being shown ‘behind-the-scenes’ of organising an event – creating a web page, and booking the rooms. I enjoyed this part of the process as it felt like I was working in a real professional environment, where I was a fellow colleague, rather than being a student communicating with staff.

Something that was a new experience for me was being trusted with a large part of the work for this event. I was given a lot of freedom creatively in terms of designing posters, invites, placards, and briefing documents. Having someone trust my opinions and abilities was a daunting experience at first, but it allowed me to grow my confidence in the work that I do. I am very grateful for that, as for much of my degree, it is about working within the confinements of learning outcomes and marking criteria. Normally I would avoid publicly speaking due to a lack of confidence in myself, but during the event we hosted I had the opportunity to present a quiz to the audience. This was a great opportunity to improve my confidence.

This placement was so insightful in terms of what being an employee with people relying on you for work feels like. Even with the challenges of having to keep up with the ever-evolving Budget predictions, this placement has provided me skills in event organising, and research that I will be able to put on my CV and use in future employment. This placement did involve a lot of work on top of the rest of my degree, but Rich was very understanding and flexible. I enjoyed every step of the process it didn’t feel much like work.

I really enjoyed this opportunity, and I am glad that the Nottingham Civic Exchange allowed me to work with them as I have grown so much in confidence, and can now see myself working in a research institute upon graduation. I definitely got more out of this experience than expected and have taken from it skills that will be needed in my future.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Nottingham Civic Exchange

Nottingham Civic Exchange has been established by Nottingham Trent University to maximise research, policy and practical impact by bringing together university expertise with partners seeking to address the needs of local communities. Nottingham Civic Exchange acts as a resource to look at social and economic issues in new ways. This means facilitating debate, acting as a bridge between research and policy debates, and developing practical projects at a local, city and regional level.

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